You’ve all seen the extended-eyed, jaw-dropping takes that cartoon characters make, something that was a specialty of Tex Avery. All sorts of studios tried doing the same thing until it became passé. One of the most unexpected places you’ll find it is in one of those odd Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoons, none other than “Dicky Moe” (1962). It comes in the scene where Tom is scrubbing the deck of a ship, Jerry substitutes tar for water, and Tom eventually realises what’s happened and reacts. Some drawings.
Unfortunately, Deitch doesn’t borrow timing from Avery. Tex would make sure you saw the take by letting it hang there for a bit. Deitch lets the jaw stay on the ground for about ten frames (less than a second), bounces it up with a kettle drum sound effect and then when the jaw’s back in place, Deitch cuts away to an unmatching closer shot of the cat and mouse. The take doesn’t sink in a well as it could.
Mind you, that’s the least of the problems with “Dicky Moe,” which is full of Deitch’s patented camera shakes, boings, mouths not moving when characters are yelling (I swear Allen Swift’s dialogue was recorded after the cartoon was made), overused jagged impact lines and butt-ugly, jerky animation. I’ll take Tex Avery any day. Deitch can give me the much more fun Sidney the elephant instead of this.